- Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo
Battle of Puebla
US Americans, mixed nationality;citizens of Puebla, Puebla
Type Multinational Date May 5, 1862 Observances
Celebration in the United States of Mexican-American culture and experiences. Only somewhat celebrated in Mexico.Food, music, folkloric dancing
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a holiday held on May 5. It is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla). The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16.
Events leading to Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the 1860 Reform Wars. These wars left the Mexican Treasury in ruins and nearly bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years. In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico that would favor French interests, the Second Mexican Empire.
The French invasion
Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat. Moving on from Veracruz towards Mexico City, the French army encountered heavy resistance from the Mexicans near Puebla, at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. The 8,000-strong French army attacked the much more poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,000. Yet, on May 5, 1862, the Mexicans managed to decisively crush the French army, the best army of the time.
The Mexican victory
The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people at large. In the description of The History Channel, "Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement." The description of Time magazine was: "The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath." It helped establish a much-needed sense of national unity and patriotism.
Events after the Battle
The Mexican victory, however, was short-lived. Thirty thousand troops and a full year later, the French were able to depose the Mexican army, capture Mexico City, and establish Emperor Maximilian I as ruler of Mexico. However, the French victory was also short-lived, lasting only 3 years, from 1864 to 1867. With the U.S. Civil War over in 1865, the U.S. was able to provide more assistance to Mexico to expel the French, after which Maximilian I was executed by the Mexicans, along with his Mexican generals Miramón and Mejía, in the Cerro de las Campanas, Queretaro.
The Battle of Puebla was important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army. "This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years." Second, it was significant because since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by any other European military force.
Consequences to the United States
Some historians have argued that France's real goal was to help break up the American Union, at the time in the midst of a civil war, by helping the southern Confederacy: "The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War." The consequence of Cinco de Mayo to the United States has been thus recognized: "The defeat of the French army had consequences for America as well...the French defeat denied Napoleon III the opportunity to resupply the Confederate rebels for another year."
Donald W. Miles adds, "At the time, there were fears in the United States that the French would use Mexico as a base to back the Confederacy, so President Lincoln and his Secretary of State went out of their way to appear 'neutral' in the Mexican situation. They did not want to take on the French and the Confederates at the same time". Dr. Miles goes on to explain that "Napoleon III had hesitated to take on the United States directly, but now the news of the Civil War changed everything". It meant that the Americans would be occupied with their conflict between North and South for some time. Upon hearing the Spaniards and the British had sailed off to grab the customs house in Veracruz to start collecting their duties, Napoleon decided he would not only send the French navy, but would also start looking for someone to place as emperor in Mexico. He would then use Mexico as a base to help the Confederates win their war against the United States. Napoleon saw this as an opportunity not to be missed. Dr. Miles then concludes, "The Emperor of France ordered his generals to spend a few months taking on Mexico and then - using Mexico as a 'base' - help the Confederates win their war against the United States. What if they had succeded? The United States would never become the significant world power it is today...the Mexicans not only took their nation back, but influenced the outcome of the U.S. Civil War."
Historian Justo Sierra has written in his Political Evolution of the Mexican People, that had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France would have gone to the aid of the South in the U.S. Civil War and the United States' destiny could have been very different.
On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In a 1998 study in the Journal of American Culture it was reported that there were more than 120 official U.S. celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, and they could be found in 21 different states. An update in 2006, found that the number of official Cinco de Mayo events was 150 or more, according to José Alamillo, professor of ethnic studies at Washington State University in Pullman, who has studied the cultural impact of Cinco de Mayo north of the border.
In the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, including César Chávez. To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate pupils about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklórico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music.
History of observance
According to a paper published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture about the origin of the observance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, the modern American focus on that day first started in California in the 1860s in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico. "Far up in the gold country town of Columbia (now Columbia State Park) Mexican miners were so overjoyed at the news that they spontaneously fired off rifles shots and fireworks, sang patriotic songs and made impromptu speeches." A 2007 UCLA Newsroom article notes that "The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico." TIME magazine reports that "Cinco de Mayo started to come into vogue in 1940s America during the rise of the Chicano movement." United Press International reports that "The holiday crossed over into the United States in the 1950s and 1960s but didn't gain popularity until the 1980s when marketers, especially beer companies, capitalized on the celebratory nature of the day and began to promote it."
Events tied to Cinco de Mayo also occur outside Mexico and the United States. For example, a sky-diving club near Vancouver, Canada, holds a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event. In the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, there is an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition. As far away as the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, revelers are encouraged to drink Mexican beer on May 5.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo. Mexico Online: The Oldest and most trusted online guide to Mexico. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- ^ "The anniversary of the victory is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico" - National Geographic Accessed December 4, 2007
- ^ List of Public and Bank Holidays in Mexico April 14, 2008. This list indicates that Cinco de Mayo is not a día feriado obligatorio ("obligatory holiday"), but is instead a holiday that can be voluntarily observed.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in México Accessed May 5, 2009
- ^ Día de la Batalla de Puebla. 5 May 2011. "Dia de la Batalla de Puebla: 5 de Mayo de 1862." Colegio Rex: Marina, Mazatlan. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- ^ Día de la Batalla de Puebla (5 de Mayo). Guia de San Miguel. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- ^ Happy “Battle of Puebla” Day. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- ^ Statement by Mexican Consular official Accessed May 8, 2007.
- ^ a b Cinco de Mayo: The Real Story. Cinco de Mayo: The Real Story, Part 1: While viewed as a Mexican holiday, the date has more meaning in the US. David E. Hayes-Bautista. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- ^ National Geographic: Defeat of French forces by Mexican Army Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- ^ a b Library of Congress (U.S.A.) Declaration Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- ^ Stefan Lovgren (2006-05-05). "Cinco de Mayo, From Mexican Fiesta to Popular U.S. Holiday". National Geographic. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/0505_060505_cinco_de_mayo.html. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ Lauren Effron (2010-05-05). "Cinco de Mayo: NOT Mexico's Independence Day". Discovery Channel. http://news.discovery.com/history/cinco-de-mayo-not-mexicos-independence-day.html. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ "University of California at Los Angeles". Clnet.ucla.edu. http://clnet.ucla.edu/cinco.html. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ Herz, May. "Cinco de Mayo.". Inside Mexico. http://www.inside-mexico.com/featurecinco.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ "Cinco de Mayo". History.com. http://www.history.com/topics/cinco-de-mayo. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ a b c d "Cinco de Mayo". Mexico Online. 2007-04-25. http://www.mexonline.com/cinco-de-mayo.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo. [Internet]. 2011. The History Channel website. Accessed 5 May 2011.
- ^ Philadelphia News Article reporting Mexican were outnumbered 2-to-1 The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, "Cinco De Mayo: Join In The Celebration On The Fifth Of May", May 7, 2009. By Cheryl VanBuskirk. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- ^ History Channel.com Retrieved May 14, 2010.
- ^ a b Happy Cinco de Mayo: Top 10 Drunkest Holidays.. Time. By Frances Romero. Wednesday, May. 05, 2010. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo inside-mexico.com
- ^ Philadelphia News Article reporting Mexican were outnumbered 2-to-1 The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, "Cinco De Mayo: Join In The Celebration On The Fifth Of May", May 7, 2009. By Cheryl VanBuskirk. Retrieved June 5, 2009. Note: The French had in fact been defeated by the Russians at the Siege of Petropavlovsk in 1854.
- ^ PBS Reports French Army Knew No Defeat for Almost 50 Years. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- ^ The Philadelphia Bulletin "This was the last time any army from another continent invaded (Note: "invaded", not "attacked") the Americas." The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, "Cinco De Mayo: Join In The Celebration On The Fifth Of May", May 7, 2009. By Cheryl VanBuskirk. Retrieved June 5, 2009. Note that since Cinco de Mayo no army from another continent has invaded the Americas. The War of the Falklands War, for example, was fought in the Americas but the Islands were invaded by a military from the Americas (the Argentine military). They were subsequently attacked (not invaded) by the UK. Another example, Pearl Harbor, experienced an attack, not an invasion by the Japanese. The only possible exception to the Cinco de Mayo claim above might be the brief occupation/invasion of two of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands by the Japanese military during WWII. This event, however, was so insignificant as to be virtually negligible: the islands invaded had a total population of 12 Americans and some 45 natives, the invasion was short-lived, and the battle fought there had no notoriety other than the psychological effect on the Americans that the Japanese had invaded American territory again (Alaska was not yet a full-fledged state). In short, the military importance of this small, frozen piece of "land" was nowhere comparable to superior military significance of the Battle of Puebla.
- ^ "Viva Cinco de Mayo". Viva Cinco de Mayo.. http://www.vivacincodemayo.org/history.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ "''Cinco De Mayo: History of the Holiday.'' Huffington Post". Huffingtonpost.com. 2009-05-05. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/04/cinco-de-mayo-history-of_n_195769.html. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo: what is everybody celebrating?. The Story Behind Mexico's Battle of Puebla. By Donald W. Miles. New York: iUniverse, Press. 2006. Page xv.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo: what is everybody celebrating?. The Story Behind Mexico's Battle of Puebla.. By Donald W. Miles. New York: iUniverse, Press. 2006. Page 7.
- ^ Cinco de Mayo: what is everybody celebrating?. The Story Behind Mexico's Battle of Puebla.. By Donald W. Miles. New York: iUniverse, Press. 2006. Page 279.
- ^ "''Mexico's Lasting European Influence.'' By Jose Antonio Burciaga. Free Lance-Star Publishing. May, 2007. (First released in The Hispanic News Link. 1981.)". Banderasnews.com. http://www.banderasnews.com/0705/edat-frenchdefeat.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ The Political Evolution of the Mexican People. By Justo Sierra. Translated by Charles Ramsdell. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press. 1969. (As presented by JSTOR: Truted Archive for Scholarship. Review: by Robert L. Bidwell. © 1971. Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami.)
- ^ Stefan Lovgren in Los Angeles. "''Cinco de Mayo History: From Bloodshed to Beer Fest.'' National Geographic". News.nationalgeographic.com. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/01/100505-cinco-de-mayo-history/. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ "In historical terms, the battle that communities across America are preparing to celebrate this weekend isn't that significant, says John Renteria, director of Centro Civico Mexicano. The May 5, 1862, Battle of Puebla is barely even noticed in Mexico, Renteria said. But the celebration of the defeat of French invaders by an outnumbered Mexican army, led by a Texas-born general, is becoming distinctly American. "It's become more of a cultural, commercial phenomenon in terms of building awareness and educating the public about the Mexican culture," Renteria said. "It's really a U.S. day, not a Mexico thing, and that's fine with us." Statement by Mexican Consular official Accessed May 8, 2007.
- ^ "Cinco de Mayo has become more of [an American] holiday than a Mexican one." accessed May 5, 2007
- ^ "Cinco de Mayo has become a day for celebrating Mexican culture in the United States, and celebrations there easily outshine those in Mexico." Accessed May 8, 2007
- ^ "Today, the holiday is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico" Accessed October 30, 2007 Archived November 18, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ In some locations with significant non-Mexican hispanic communities, such as Florida, the celebration has grown to include non-Mexicans. Ahorre.com Accessed May 8, 2007.
- ^ "[Cinco de Mayo] gives us an opportunity ... to really get a jump-start on the summer beer-selling season" New York Times Business section; May 2, 2003. Accessed October 30, 2007
- ^ "From my perspective as a marketing professional, Cinco de Mayo has morphed into a national holiday designed by Fifth Avenue to sell alcohol and excite consumership around a party-type theme." Accessed May 5, 2007.
- ^ "Cinco de Mayo is not just a fiesta anymore, the gringos have taken it on as a good sales pitch." Smithsonian Institution paper Accessed May 8, 2007. "It's a commercial entry point for people who want to penetrate the Latino market," said Felix Gutierrez, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles." Ahorre.com Accessed May 8, 2007.
- ^ "''Cinco de Mayo's First Seventy-Five Years in Alta California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862 to 1937. The Southern California Quarterly, HSSC, 2007. Hayes-Bautista, David E.; Chamberlin, Cynthia L.''". http://www.cesla.med.ucla.edu/v1/Documents/Research%20Papers/02.Hayes-Chamberlin%20Spr%2007%20pgd.pdf?a621a6c71915b50125a63189ade5e8cc=16527cd6dff1bf5a21f4c3697d83cc5a. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- ^ a b Southern California Quarterly "Cinco de Mayo's First Seventy-Five Years in Alta California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862 to 1937" Spring 2007 (see American observation of Cinco de Mayo started in California) accessed October 30, 2007. See also History of observance of Cinco de Mayo in United States accessed May 9, 2009.
- ^ "[Cinco de Mayo] is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico." Accessed May 5, 2007
- ^ "Cinco de Mayo Skydiving Boogie" Accessed 2008-05-05.
- ^ Cayman Cinco de Mayo air guitar Accessed 2008-05-05.
- ^ Celebration in Malta. Accessed 2008-05-05.
- Cinco De Mayo Videos on The History Channel
- Cinco de Mayo Fun: Mariachi! - slideshow by Life magazine
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